There are some contradictions in the halachos of Tisha B'av that make one wonder about the nature of the day. On one hand, we act like mourners, sit on low chairs, do not wear leather shoes and do not greet one another with a friendly "hello". On the other hand, Tisha B'av is called a Mo'ed, a yom tov-not only because it will be a yom tov when moshiach comes, but because now it can be viewed as a festival. This is why men do not say tachanun-a tefillah that is not recited on yomim tovim and other days of celebration.
How can Tisha B'av be viewed as a festival? Where is the joy in this sad day? And what can we take from the intense mourning of this day...that will bring us some measure of comfort?
The Chasam Sofer explains something interesting about the fact that we still mourn for the Beis Hamikdosh so many years after it was destroyed. There have been many nations in the history of the world who have gone through loss and destruction, yet none of them mourn; they have all been forgotten with the passage of time. Egypt, Spain, Rome-each nation had their high point and then fell. But we, the Jewish People, not only are we still around, but we still cry over our loss, so many years later.
Our chachamim tell us that there is a gezeirah, a decree from Hashem, that the memory of one who died will fade as time goes on. It is possible for someone who experienced the loss of the death of a loved one to be consoled, to move on and even...even to forget. But because of this same gezeira, if someone mourns someone who they think is dead but really is alive, they will never be able to be consoled. No words, no stories, no inspiration...even the passage of time will ever comfort them. They will not be able to overcome this grief.
In the same way, other nations who have lost their power and greatness, who lost their country, who are no longer a People, can be consoled; they can overcome their loss...because their loss is final, it is complete. There is no hope for them. They will never be able to go back to their previous glory. The status they once held is considered "dead" and they become forgotten as time goes on.
However, the Jewish People can never be consoled over the loss of the Beis Hamikdosh.
As it says in Megillas Eichah, ein la menachem-they have no one to comfort them. I always saw this as something so sad...for a different reason. When my family sat shiva for my brother, the stream of people coming to comfort us didn't stop. So many people came to try to offer words of consolation and to be there for us, with us in our pain. But when the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed, there was no one to comfort the Jews-for they were all in the same boat. They were all hurting. They were all experiencing famine, death and loss. Who could offer words of comfort in such a setting? No one. They were all in it together.
But that's not what the Chasam Sofer is saying. He takes a whole different spin on that phrase. Why can we not be comforted over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh?
Because it is not a permanent destruction. It is not a permanent loss. No matter how much time passes, our hearts still ache, our souls still yearn to return...because we will return. We cannot forget the pain...because it is not a permanent "death", it is but a temporary loss.
As it says in the first passuk in Eichah, ha'ir rabasi am, haysah k'almanah-the city that was great with people has become like a widow. And Rashi says, she is like a widow...but she is not really a widow. She is like a woman whose husband went to a foreign city with the intention of returning to her.
The very fact that we are still crying on Tisha B'av, that we still mourn the loss of the Beis Hamikdosh, that we still long for and hope to return to Yerushalayim, is in itself the greatest source of consolation. The greatest nechama.
This is the reason why Tisha B'av is referred to as a mo'ed, a yom tov, and why those tefillos that are not recited on festivals are omitted on this day. We can feel comforted and yes, even rejoice inside while we mourn...for we know that it is specifically because we are still mourning that we know we will once again return...return to our Father, return to our Land and return to the former glory we as a nation once had.
This shabbos, Shabbos Nachamu, is a time when we can find comfort in the fact that we are still here. We spent Tisha B'av in a mode of longing and yearning, as we (hopefully) cried, wished and hoped for the geula. Although we are still waiting for that day to come, we can be comforted by the fact that it will come...that we have never forgotten...and that our Nation is still alive.
May we be zoche to experience the true nechama and live to see the day come when Kol Hamisabel Al Yerushalayim...all those who mourn over the rebuilding of Yerushalayim...will actually see and experience the joy when the Beis Hamikdosh will finally be rebuilt!